I have written several times about the stupidity that can come from State or Federal Governments that is then embellished by the mainstream media. Last week I wrote about the Federal Government jumping in and taking action to fix a problem that bigger Governments and global brands have been struggling with for years. In some respects you have to say “good on them” for trying and for helping to raise awareness of an issue, however, the way they go about it is often in panic mode or without all the facts.
I also wrote about the NSW Government and their indecision surrounding ride-sharing versus taxi services and again making panic moves without thinking about what they are doing. In many cases they just need to get a common message and then ensure that all civil servants speak to the media the same way. Unfortunately they give the journalists an easy way to ramp up the stupidity.
The Christmas period had a fairly high road toll with some pretty horrendous accidents. This prompted some really crazy comments that were grabbed by the media and spread further. The good news was that I did read quite a good article highlighting the stupidity coming from politicians mouths.
One out-there thought was that the Christmas road toll was caused by international drivers – there was a single accident in Victoria when someone had an accident and there was another where a “tourist” was caught “speeding” down the wrong side of the road. The problem with the second story was that no one knows if it was a tourist or not (it was a rental car) and the vehicle in question was apparently doing 50 km/h in a 50km/h zone. This lead to an ex-police officer blaming tourists for accidents and politicians jumping on the bandwagon demanding special tests.
A local MP claimed that 20% of all accidents in her electorate “involve or are caused by international drivers” citing Government figures. Those figures, although statistically accurate, do not reflect the volume of traffic and therefore the real danger of travelling in her locality. The MP demanded that all tourists should take a driving test prior to picking up a rental car. I don’t quite know how that would work although it would improve the employment rate by hiring hundreds of extra testers!
There was greater demand by the politicians for more speed cameras because that apparently would slow the tourists down. It doesn’t slow the locals down, so I don’t think it will stop anyone who is here for a few weeks only. Then the reporting turned to the fantasy that if all cars on the road were new then the road toll would drop. An interesting statement that ignored every other component in the concept of driving: the weather, road conditions, humans and many more issues that affect driving.
I read this in one report about tourists: “Newer cars can halt a skid, scan the road ahead and keep a safe distance to the car in front and slam on the brakes if the driver isn’t paying attention.” Not particularly helpful comments and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a car halt a skid or a slide on its own before! Not without the help of another object anyway.
It’s actually an interesting topic because Christmas is summer time here and so there are many more tourists exploring the country and so the chances of an accident would probably rise. Couple that with many more local people travelling – some who aren’t used to travelling long distances, some who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and some who are simply dog tired from work and preparing for the festivities. Each one adds to the risks for everyone driving on our roads.
There are plenty of ‘international” drivers on our roads many of whom have become citizens or have permanent residency status and have local licences. Are these people included in any statistics? To be blunt, I see crap driving and near misses most days and who knows where those drivers come from.
Anyone who drives in another unfamiliar country is always at risk and does need to take more care – I agree with that as I have had to drive in unfamiliar areas myself and had to be more careful. I just don’t think that tourists are the cause of a much bigger problem. If politicians want safer roads, they have to spend more on driver education – and not just once when you are tested for your first licence. I am a firm believer in being tested every 5 years – or whenever your licence is due for renewal. They also need to spend more money repairing existing roads and not just building wide new ones.
There is a lot that can be done to reduce the chances of a road accident and we all have a part to play in that.